KARACHI - Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led multi-party conference on Thursday opposed any move from the federal government to make changes to 18th amendment while demanding the dissolution recently-constituted NFC commission.

The multi-party conference was convened at CM house by the PPP. It was presided over by Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah and was chaired by the PPP Sindh chapter President Nisar Ahmed Khuhro.

The conference was also attended by MQM-P leader Khawaja Izhar ul Hassan, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) leader Mohammad Hussain Mehanti, PML-N Sindh leader Shah Mohammad Shah, Shabbir Qaimkhani from PSP, Moulana Rashid Mehmood Soomro from JUI-F and leaders from ANP and Sunni Tehreek.

Leaders from Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan and others also attended it while following COVID-19 SOPs.

Grand Democratic Alliance, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and nationalist parties in the province announced a boycott of the multi-party conference. Speaking during the conference, the Chief Minister said that they had placed orders for new ventilators amid rising COVID-19 cases in the province; however, it would take time for them to arrive due to prevailing global conditions.

We have asked the federal government to support us, he said while supporting a strict lockdown in the country on the recommendations of the World Health Organisation.

I have also conveyed a letter to the Prime Minister raising objections on the formation of NFC commission, he said.              

The resolution adopted by the conference said that the 18th constitutional amendment has not only maintained balance of power between the Centre and provinces but also restored the powers of the elected Prime Minister and Parliament. It agreed that raising such issues at the time of the pandemic was not appropriate and the federal government should avoid creating a controversy over the amendment. ‘

It further blamed the Centre for not being in favour of empowered provinces and their economic stability, and is therefore trying to propose changes to it to further strengthen federalism.

We will not support any changes to 18th amendment that could lead to attack on provincial autonomy, and the NFC award.

The conference also asked the Centre to convene a Council of Common Interest (CCI) meeting after every three months as per the constitutional requirement.

The multi-party conference, while terming the commission on NFC and its terms of references as unconstitutional, demanded the government to form another NFC commission with the recommendation of the provinces.

While rejecting the federal government’s decision to oust 9350 Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) employees, the political leadership called for withdrawing the decision and resolving the matter at the CCI level. The PPP-led multi-party conference also lauded the doctors, nurses and paramedic for serving during the pandemic and urged the federal and provincial governments to take all necessary measures to save lives of masses as virus cases and death toll from COVID-19 continue to surge in the country.

The meeting also appealed to the federal government and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to take action to tackle swarms of locusts and announce a package for farmers affected by it. It said that any negligence in this regard could lead to food shortage in the country.

Speaking after the conference, PPP leader Nisar Khuhro said that the federal government seems confused in dealing with the COVID-19 situation in the country and is trapped between lockdown and smart lockdown decisions.

Speaking on NFC award, he said that the federal government should increase the provinces share as constitutionally they could not decrease the province’s share.